3 human rights defenders killed in a week

BULATLAT FILE PHOTO: The Manilakbayan trooping to the national headquarters of various large-scale miners in Mindanao. (Photo by Carlo Manalansan/Bulatlat)

“The killings of Pangadas, Vinas and Suganob bring to light the continuous attack and atrocities being committed by state forces against indigenous and peasant communities.”


MANILA – A Lumad student, a party-list leader and a farmer were killed in just a week according to human rights group Karapatan.

Roneo Clamor, Karapatan deputy secretary general condemned the killing of the three human rights defenders.

The victims were Lumad student, Jerome Pangadas, Bayan Muna coordinator James Vinas and Anakpawis member Larry Suganob.

Clamor said these killings are not mere “isolated cases” but a systematic attack against indigenous and peasant communities who continue to raise legitimate demands for education, self-determination and genuine land reform.

“Students, their communities, and the schools which they have founded and built are being attacked. Farmers and their organizations, as well as their supporters are being attacked. Human rights defenders and activists are being targeted. The Filipino people who remain firm in the defense of their rights are in extreme danger under this brutal and murderous regime,” Clamor said in a statement.

Pangadas was only 15 years old and a Grade 6 student of Salugpongan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center. According to the report of Save Our Schools Network, a member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) opened fire at several houses in sitio Milyong, Sto. Niño village, Talaingod, Davao del Norte on March 15. Pangadas who was in a neighbor’s house then watching television was hit in the head that killed him instantly. The perpetrator was identified as Eroy Balentin.

“Students of community schools have been increasingly at risk, particularly after the Duterte government and its band of military fascists have zeroed in on the schools as their targets,” said Clamor in a statement.

Meanwhile, on March 12, in Borongan, Eastern Samar, Vinas, 72, was shot at by riding-in-tandem in front of his house at 7:15 p.m. in Borongan City. According to Bayan Muna, the police are blaming activists for his death. Senatoriable Neri Colmenares condemned the killing of Vinas and for pinning the blame to the activists.

“There are so many activists, priests, lawyers and farmers were killed using the same modus where victims and their colleagues are vilified before and after the crime. This was the scheme since Gloria Arroyo and also during that time and up to now, the alleged perpetrators are the police and the military,” Makabayan senatorial bet said in his statement.

Meanwhile in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, Larry Suganob, 42, was gunned down by motorcycle-riding men in his home at San Isidro village. Suganob is a farmer and active in their struggle against the land grabbing of the Ayalas. He also was a member of Pinagbuklod, an affiliate of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).

Prior to the incident, Anakpawis said on Feb. 15, Suganob’s family received a “notice of demand to vacate their homelot and farmland after 30 days. But his family asserted their rights. After the period of the supposed expiry, the victim observed that there were unidentified men making rounds in the area.

KMP said Suganob is the 184th peasant victim of extra-judicial killing under the Duterte administration.

Karapatan demanded an immediate end to the killings, “which would entail the disbanding of paramilitary groups and the withdrawal of the Duterte government’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan.”

“The killings of Pangadas, Vinas and Suganob bring to light the continuous attack and atrocities being committed by state forces against indigenous and peasant communities. Instead of victim-blaming, impunity and the weaving of lies which the government resorts to when being questioned about these cases, it should focus on resolving and addressing these incidents and the causes which led to it,” Clamor said. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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